Establishing Generative Learning for Children with Autism (Mark Sundberg)

Typically developing children demonstrate an explosion of language skills between the ages of 2 and 3 (e.g., Hart & Risley, 1995). During this period, a child acquires new speaker and listener skills rapidly, often without direct training or reinforcement. However, many children with autism struggle with, or fail to make this critical linguistic leap. This learning barrier could be related to a child’s inability to benefit from generative learning. Generative learning occurs when existing skills enable or accelerate the acquisition of other skills, without direct teaching or reinforcement (Rosales-Ruiz & Baer, 1997). Children with autism may be able to benefit from the powerful effects of generative learning if they acquire certain prerequisite and component skills and are provided with some specific training. The VB-MAPP contains a number of milestones that can be identified as measures of generative learning, and a child’s performance on these measures can be used to guide an intervention program. Several strategies for establishing generative learning will be described.
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Mark Sundberg, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Presented at the 2020 Michigan Autism Conference
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